A visit to the home of longtime Larchmont resident, and recipe and lifestyle expert Lauren Groveman, conjures up old-fashioned hospitality and good home cooking. Her two yellow labs, Rosebud and Mango, scamper back and forth as she prepares lunch. The sweet aromas emanating from the kitchen and the warm feeling one gets from being in her presence are all part of her message. Groveman is passionate about cooking as a means of fostering communication, and she lives the message she espouses.
Groveman has three grown children with her husband, Jon. She has authored two cookbooks, Lauren Groveman’s Kitchen: Nurturing Food for Family and Friends and The I Love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends. She teaches private cooking classes in her home, appears on a variety of local and national television shows, writes columns for various magazines, has her own radio show and cooking videos, and has contributed to a cookbook with the legendary Julia Child. On top of all this, she has been teaching cooking and baking to male and female inmates on Rikers Island for the past 11 years through her charitable organization, Hands-on-Food, Inc.
“I love to love, in the purest sense,” she says, explaining her fondness for all things culinary. “Cooking has enabled me to love in this pure form. I wanted to nurture from as far back as I can remember, and I realized that cooking soothed me and the people I love.”
She stresses that her message is grounded in empowerment, not in being tied to the kitchen. “My message is a progressive one,” she says. “Of course, people should have careers, and inevitably families do get busy. I believe, though, that a working woman (or man, as the case may be) can use cooking to feel her soft, creative side and use it as a positive aspect to enhance her home life – as a way to heal.”
Groveman also notes that inherent in her message is the importance of family togetherness. “The way families used to be – actually sitting together and communicating, relating about their day – is what I try to incorporate into a 21st-century world,” she says.
Groveman traces her passion for the lifestyle she embraces back to her childhood. “It’s funny, because Julia Child ended up being a good friend of mine, and as a child I would actually come home from school and watch her on television,” she recalls. “I really fell in love with cooking at that point. I wanted to have a family, and to have them be satisfied around my food.
“My mother was a top fashion model who didn’t cook,” she continues. “Our housekeeper did the cooking, and I remember being about 7 and breathing in the aromas from the kitchen. Those cooking scents made me feel better, and I knew that later on in life I wanted to be tied to them as a source for my kids.”
Groveman eventually took a cooking class and fell “madly in love” with the art of cooking and cookbooks. Her children also like to cook, she says. “I didn’t push it on them, but I did want it to be available to them, so it’s great that they are involved.”
Cooking, she maintains, is a means to improve one’s self-esteem, self-confidence and assertiveness. “My favorite part of all this,” she says, “is the positive influence I can have on people.” She cites the inmates she works with, saying, “It is so fulfilling for me to teach them something that they can be good at and which makes them feel better about themselves.”
Groveman has a novel take on the other ways cooking can build character. “One really needs to be self-trusting and assertive when making bread, for example,” she explains. “In order for the dough to ‘perform’, one needs to be confident in kneading and handling it.”
Above all, Groveman values the healing effect that cooking a meal can bring. “Eating a meal that is lovingly prepared is, to me, not only physical fortification for the ones you love but brings emotional safety as well,” she says. “It’s so important to bring the family together at the table, to revisit their history as a tribe, so to speak.”
It is important to Groveman that the home she has created is the kind of home she wanted as a child but did not have. She hopes to inspire others, she says, “who think that they can’t do something, to go ahead and do it and succeed.”
For more information, visit www.LaurenGroveman.com.
Lauren Groveman’s Recipe for a Delicious Life
5 tablespoons inspiration
2 cups imagination
1 generous cup of commitment
2 tablespoons of courage
3 rounded tablespoons of each: entitlement, self-trust and playfulness
1 pound of purely joyful, nurturing intentions
Each morning, before you rise, whisk together the inspiration drawn from appreciating “what is” with your imagination, taken from all things that “could be”, and bring your thoughts to a brisk bubble. As you get out of bed, fold into your thoughts a hefty dose of commitment to make life better, no matter what you might have previously thought about your ability to do so. (Here’s where you’ll stir in that courage). Now, walk confidently into the kitchen with a clear sense of entitlement, for you deserve all of life’s blessings. And when you step bravely up to the stove, relax. Trust that your unique brand of deliciousness will help bring balance to your life by creating more loving, memorable times with your favorite people. Use your ingredients thoughtfully yet playfully, since there are few limitations when a joyful heart is richly seasoned with nurturing intentions.